The Philadelphia Phillies have been forced to stew on a disappointing 2019 season longer than usual.
Due to the coronavirus pandemic, MLB’s offseason extended from five months to nine, but plans are officially in place to get the ball rolling once more.
The Phillies have plenty to prove in the pandemic-shortened 60-game season. After acquiring Bryce Harper, Jean Segura and JT Realmuto, they were expected to be one of the favorites in the NL East last season.
But injuries and inconsistencies under former manager Gabe Kapler saw them sputter to a .500 finish, fourth-best in the division.
With Joe Girardi now at the helm and Zack Wheeler and Didi Gregorius acquired to bolster their ranks, the Phillies are set to remount a challenge for their first playoff appearance since 2011.
It will be far from easy, though.
Not only do the Phillies play in the toughest division that contains the defending World Series-champion Washington Nationals, the defending NL East-champion Atlanta Braves, and a resurgent New York Mets team that won 86 games last year, they’ll also have to play the teams of the American League East due to geographical travel restrictions that come with coronavirus protocols.
That means matchups with the daunting New York Yankees, considered one of the very best teams in baseball, and a Tampa Bay Rays team that flew under the radar to win 96 games last season.
Here is a look at their full schedule:
July 24-26: vs. Miami Marlins
July 27-28: vs. New York Yankees
July 29-30: at Yankees
July 31-Aug. 2: at Toronto Blue Jays
August 4-6: at Miami Marlins
Aug. 7-10: vs. Atlanta Braves
Aug. 11-13: vs. Baltimore Orioles
Aug. 14-16: vs. New York Mets
Aug. 18-19: at Boston Red Sox
Aug. 21-23: vs. Braves
Aug. 25-27: at Washington Nationals
Aug. 28-30: vs. Braves
Aug. 31-Sept. 3: vs. Nationals
Sept. 4-7: at Mets
Sept. 8-9: vs. Red Sox
Sept. 10-13: at Marlins
Sept. 15-17: vs. Mets
Sept. 18: vs. Blue Jays
Sept. 21-23: at Nationals
Sept. 25-27: at Tampa Bay Rays
Luckily for the Phillies, they get the Yankees out of the way fairly early in their schedule. But in a 60-game season, there is added stress on how a team starts its season.
An evenly-balanced schedule ensures that there are no elongated stretches against premier teams or basement-dwellers with their toughest run looking to be from Aug. 21-Sept. 7, which features consecutive matchups against the Braves, Nationals and Mets.
The last two series of the regular season won’t be a cakewalk, though. If the Phillies are close to postseason contention, they’ll have to secure their spot with final matchups against the Nationals and Rays.